By Peter Twigg
One of the most thrilling and terrifying prospects in the 21st century is the ascendency of medical technology combined with the political ideology of progressivism multiplied by consumer demand.
Yes to the ability to control and defeat many kinds of illnesses, to extend quality of life and life itself. New emerging medical technologies including genomic technologies will allow scientists to read organism genomes faster than ever before and also write more complex changes into those genomes, creating organisms with new capabilities. And no to the merger of state driven progressive policy mating with the new sciences. Consumers will demand gene engineering so that their children may be smarter, more athletic and more beautiful as well along with the vast healing potential genomic therapies offer the sick and the aging.
It’s been tried before of course. It was called ‘Eugenics’ and was practiced in America, Germany and Sweden in the 1930’s and 40’s. The practice of eugenics was first recorded at the time of Ancient Sparta when unfit and undesirable children were killed at birth. Selective breeding, military training and excellence allowed Sparta to become the dominant military power. A simple Wikipedia definition defines Eugenics from the Greek εὐγενής eugenes, meaning “well-born” from εὖ eu, “good, well” and γένος genos, “race”). It is the belief and practice of improving the genetic quality of the human population.
Sanctioned at government levels, it was the progressive attitude and justification used to promote mass sterilization, institutionalization, social segregation and infanticide. The term eugenics fell out of favour in light of the Nazi abuses. The fact is that it still plays a role in both science and government policy as it ever did. Only the names have changed.
Instead of “eugenics” and “racial hygiene,” the scientific community now promotes “social biology” and “sociobiology.” “Deficient” genes now replace the term “inferior” genes. “Family planning” now replaces “abortion” and “sterilization.” Eugenics was misapplied disastrously in the 1930s and 1940s. Eugenics programs were often race-based, as opposed to being simply based on “inferior genetics” across the board.
Juan Enriquez, a writer, investor, and managing director of Excel Venture Management speaking at Technology Review’s EmTech conference this year, says our newfound ability to write the code of life will profoundly change the world as we know it. Because we can engineer our environment and ourselves, humanity is moving beyond the constraints of Darwinian evolution. The result, he says, may be an entirely new species.
Enriquez proposes a new human species is one that begins to engineer the evolution of viruses, plants, animals, and itself. As we do that, Darwin’s rules get significantly bent, and sometimes even broken. By taking direct and deliberate control over our evolution, we are living in a world where we are modifying stuff according to our desires.
Considering the fact that Enriquez is in favour of the creation of a “new ethics,” this statement alone, if his philosophy gains any traction, is quite a concern. Although improved in terms of implementation and public perception, we have seen this system before and, unfortunately, what Juan Enriquez labels a “new ethics” is not very new at all.
In light of the increase in propaganda masquerading as science and being peddled by scientists, there is no doubt the world’s population is being prepped for a eugenics-based future. This time the system will be assisted by a much more sophisticated technological machine, and thus, a much more efficient system of eugenics. After years of non-stop television, media repetition, and “experts” who tout the benefits of merging man and machine, as well as the cost of inheriting “inferior” genes, there is little doubt that the world’s population will march into this future willingly.
What is clear is the new technology, as it emerges, will change virtually everything in society as we know it – economically, socially, morally and politically. In fact a new human species, able to engineer viruses, plants, animals and itself. A new world order indeed.
Just as it lacked an ethical and moral framework in the 30’s and 40’s, ethicists and scientists are a long way from being able to put such a framework into effect. And of course the scientists innovating this new technology will want to appoint themselves as the ‘Gene Kings’, the arbiter of the technology, prices and who should be able to receive this technology. Yet, the demands of consumers for new solutions to age old problems, the push of new technologies offering unrivaled solutions makes this a much coveted prize for humanity.
For governments it also means answers to many of the pressing social and economic issues created by burgeoning populations. Governments continue to sponsor and promote eugenics as a means of solving many of the world’s problems. Demographics, food production, healthcare provision can all be controlled from a eugenics standpoint.
Politics in the 20th and 21st centuries is a progressive affair. The illusion of left and right, capitalism, liberalism etc, has been eviscerated systematically over the last 100 years.
Progressivism is the ideology where democratic government intervention is presumed to produce a better result than a voluntary society. It is an ideology with no basis in fact or logic. Despite its growing impact on social and economic policy, progressivism is all about those in power enjoying the rewards of position and power.
Progressivism is a form of utopianism where government laws and social conditions are perfect and beyond realisation. One consequence of utopianism is ruthlessness. This explains the racial hygiene of Nazism and why many progressive politicians exhibit ruthlessness as they push to achieve a utopian state of affairs. What ‘higher ideal’ than to do away with disease and to create a ‘heaven on earth’. The utopian element of progressivism however lends itself towards totalitarianism – the total state backed by the ultimate moral sanction of solving all human problems through the power (read force) of the state.
Every generation will bring upgrades as genomic technology improves and the “problems” resolved, much like computers today receive software upgrades every month or so. The process of getting it right will necessarily bring about many failures but as explained in the fervor of consumer demand and the progressive government push towards a utopian ideal these will be mere unintended consequences and a price worth paying.
There will be political abuses in achieving the aims of the state. Racial profiling will determine who will be eligible for gene therapies and who will not. People will be licensed according to their genes whether they are eligible to breed or not. People with congenital defects will simply not be allowed to reproduce with all the social, economic, medical and legal pressure applied by government to enforce compliance.
Government may even hold up a utopian ideal of a ‘one human race’ where all differences are bred out, thus offering the prospect of eliminating racial bigotry and the cause of so much human suffering through history. At the same time a one human race species destroys human bio-diversity and the ability of the human species to adapt and survive in the face of new challenges. Ooops! Even if humanity survived such challenges, Darwinism would also be finished and control would now reside with the hubristic politicians and scientists who mastermind the great human genome re-engineering.
You can be sure that, gene therapies will create a new genre of super corporations with their attendant level of political and economic influence arising from the control of such technology. These elite corporations along with political leaders will be able to affect greater government intervention and control to execute their progressive utopian ideal.
In an extreme social scenario of totalitarianism taken to extremes the potential to develop human sub classes – drones (slaves), elites, and soldier classes become some ‘Hunger Games’ style existence.
So we can conclude by saying the technology will happen and its impact on humanity and societies will be vast and in-calculable. As part of the process, despite the best attempts to get a moral and ethical framework that is sturdy enough to curb the level of abuse, the fact remains, there will be abuse by governments and consumers. Fortunes will be made. The rewards will prove to be equally amazing as many diseases will be eliminated, life extended and human potential enhanced.
The unintended consequences of the technology will also be vast in its consequences and reach into every facet of human endeavor. But consumers will demand modern eugenics, governments will mandate and exercise force in achieving it and humanity will plunge forward headlong into incredible change and growth. The way we view the world, people and our destiny is getting ready to change.
Web article: Google: 20141025: nazi eugenics: The Horrifying American Roots of Nazi Eugenics http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/1796
Web article: Google: 20141025: eugenics: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/425804/emtech-get-ready-for-a-new-human-species/
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Hope for Humankind